In short: The United States Senate has now approved the Music Modernization Act (also known as the MMA) designed to better account for music streaming licensing and royalties. As the bill has now successfully passed through the Senate, it will return to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval to changes before being put in front of President Donald Trump to sign into law.
Background: Ever since music streaming became a thing, the issue of royalties and licensing has become a more complicated situation. This bill was in part designed to fix some of those issues by adjusting the U.S. Copyright Act so those who are entitled to royalties each time their music is streamed, get them. The bill had already previously been passed through, and approved by the House, and therefore its return for final approval is unlikely to prove an issue. In other words, after already passing through the House and now also the Senate, the bill has largely seen off its major legal hurdles and is expected to become law in due course.
Impact: The bill is understood to be widely supported by the music industry as a whole, and more of a reflection of long-overdue changes to existing copyright law. The main aspect of how the MMA will change the current situation is through the creation and use of a new body which effectively will act a middle-man between those who offer streamed music and those who own the rights to that music. Essentially, the new body will collect payments and reimburse those entitled to those payments. However, there are also other areas of change which will see other legislation combined with the main MMA, such as the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society (also known as the CLASSICS) Act, which will ensure artists and songwriters receive royalties for music released before 1972. As well as the Allocation for Music Producers (also known as the AMP) Act which will offer producers and engineers the ability to apply for royalties to content they have worked on – something that was previously not possible. In the most basic sense, the combined new changes will look to simplify the licensing system to benefit all those involved. That is, payment for songwriters, producers and engineers, while also opening the door for digital music companies to licence music content in the first place.